Many people may assume Christmas has been cancelled this year because of the pandemic that we have all experienced throughout 2020. Smaller gatherings, stricter rules and the worry of infecting a more vulnerable family member may be just some of the reasons you think you should cancel Christmas and leave celebrations to another time. Of course, you may have also been affected financially by the COVID crisis, as many people have, and lost your job or had a serious impact on your finances. This can make this time of year especially stressful!
However, this doesn’t mean you have to cancel Christmas altogether. Here are our five top tips for enjoying the festive season despite the doom and gloom that you may be feeling right now!
#1 – Remember the meaning behind Christmas
This is quite an important one. It is a good idea, especially when you are worried about affording the very best toys or gifts for loved ones, that you think about the meaning behind Christmas and recognise that in recent years, it may have felt like quite a materialistic time of year. It didn’t start out this way. Traditionally, only one or two gifts would be shared and it would be more about the family coming together and the Christmas dinner. Will your family love you any less if you haven’t spent as much on them? Probably not! And let’s face it, your family members may also feel the same way – they may not have the money to spend on you, either. So it is about having the conversation and being honest with people to tell them that you cannot afford the same number of gifts or types of gifts that you normally would.
#2 – Make a list, check it twice!
Why don’t you make a list of the gifts you would like to purchase for loved ones, then check back and think about what you can actually afford. You should also do this when it comes to the food bill. Why not switch to cheaper brands? How about making the cake rather than buying an expensive one? These small sacrifices will all add up over time. Refer back to the list and try not to stray from it as you head out to the shops!
#3 – Save up – you still have time!
It might feel like you don’t have enough time to save up any money but there is still time to make the pennies count. Raid piggy banks, look at your savings accounts, club together with someone else in the family to afford a particularly special gift for someone, and figure out if there are any cutbacks in other areas which you might be able to make now, to save money for the Christmas spend.
#4 – Promise yourself more for next year
If you can’t find any way of saving money for this Christmas, then look forward to next year. If you don’t want to be in this position again, why not put a savings plan in place now. There are many free templates available on the internet for you to follow and if you stick to it, you could save hundreds (or even thousands) in just 52 weeks if you adopt the saving strategy early.
For example, let’s look at the Wonga 52 week challenge. Which is designed to help you accumulate a sizable savings fund that equates to 14,000 Rand (approx. £700 or $920) with small multiplications. This basic principle works like this:
- In week one, you deposit R10 in a savings account
- In week two, you deposit R20
- In week three, you deposit R30
- In week four, you deposit R40
- until, in week 52, you deposit R520!
It is also possible to run the savings challenge in reverse which some people have actually found easier to stick to (depending on how broke you are in January) i.e. your largest saving contribution is in week 1 of January with each subsequent contribution decreasing amount so the process gets progressively less painful.
#5 Be on the hunt for deals
You might also look at getting some really good deals in a way to save money on Christmas. The sage advice, as always, says to start early, “Picking up Christmas essentials like crackers or decorations in the sales can mean big savings, sometimes around 50%.”
The January sales are always good for picking up some big bargains like soap and other consumables which will last when stored all year. This means you could even get a lot of your Christmas shopping done before next Christmas season even hits you!
Being this organised does take time, effort, and thought, so what about also roping in some family members to help you with the challenge? Maybe a Christmas tree bag with wheels would be beneficial to you.
Image Credits: Brooke Lark